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Old 08-21-2013, 03:31 PM
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Default Commentary: Who's asking?

Commentary: Who's asking?

08-20-2013 02:02 AM

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DADT Repealed



Commentary: Who's asking?


by: Tech. Sgt. Carissa Lee
48th Fighter Wing PAO
published: August 20, 2013

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ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- I'm not gay. Not that it matters, but, I'm not. I'm a happily married, 39-year-old woman with two children, and I have been in the Air Force for close to 17 years. Why do you care?

You probably don't care because you don't know me. And even if you do, it wouldn't matter to you because you would know me for the person I am, not my personal attributes.

I've been both blessed and sometimes not so blessed in my job. You name it, I've dealt with it. I have made some huge mistakes along the way, but I have also learned that having a sense of compassion and empathy have gained me a semblance of respect from those I work with.

A few years ago, I had a staff sergeant report to me on his first day at work. Immediately, I knew he was gay. How? I'm not sure. I just did. But, I didn't care, and I surely didn't ask, because "back then" we couldn't. It was the worst-kept secret in the office, but because he was one of the hardest working, proactive and genuinely good human beings I have ever worked with, it did not matter. Not one bit.

Until it got out. When it did, it got out in a big way. In such a big way that office leadership was forced to take action. He had broken the law. Nobody asked, but he inadvertently told. One of the most difficult things I have had to do as an NCO was to testify against my Airman because of his sexual preference. But, that was the rule back then, and he had disobeyed it knowingly.

It was a fairly quick process for his discharge to come through. During that time, our office was in a state of shock and sadness that we were losing such an amazing Airman. He didn't want a farewell lunch or dinner or anything...he just wanted to quietly leave because I think, for him, he felt he let us down.

I have kept in contact with him in the years since he left the Air Force. He married his boyfriend and they live together happily in New York City. I still feel that the Air Force lost one of its finest when he left us.

A few years later, another young Airman walked into my office. Again, I knew right away that he was gay. But this time, there was a major difference. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was about to be put into effect within a few weeks. Knowing this, my approach did not change one bit. I welcomed him into our office and treated him as I would any other Airman.

September 20, 2010, the day DADT was repealed, came and went with no admissions from our Airman and no questions from us. I can't remember the first time he directly told me "I'm gay," but I know it took incredible courage for him to say those words to me. It was as if saying them out loud lifted tons of weight off of his shoulders, and he could finally be himself.

He could talk about his boyfriend when the other Airmen in the office were discussing date nights. He brought him to an Airman Leadership School graduation as his date, and a few months ago they got married on an Air Force base, in a chapel, by an Air Force chaplain.

Times have certainly changed. I'm pretty confident that the generations before us never imagined the day when homosexuals could openly serve in the military. But then again, the generations before them never thought that African Americans or women should serve, either. We've come a long way.

Bravo, Air Force.


Tags: Commentary, DADT Repealed, RAF Alconbury, RAF Croughton, RAF Fairford, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall, RAF Molesworth, News
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Commentary: Who's asking?


by: Tech. Sgt. Carissa Lee
48th Fighter Wing PAO
published:

Share This:


Tweet

Comments
Email
Print


ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- I'm not gay. Not that it matters, but, I'm not. I'm a happily married, 39-year-old woman with two children, and I have been in the Air Force for close to 17 years. Why do you care?

You probably don't care because you don't know me. And even if you do, it wouldn't matter to you because you would know me for the person I am, not my personal attributes.

I've been both blessed and sometimes not so blessed in my job. You name it, I've dealt with it. I have made some huge mistakes along the way, but I have also learned that having a sense of compassion and empathy have gained me a semblance of respect from those I work with.

A few years ago, I had a staff sergeant report to me on his first day at work. Immediately, I knew he was gay. How? I'm not sure. I just did. But, I didn't care, and I surely didn't ask, because "back then" we couldn't. It was the worst-kept secret in the office, but because he was one of the hardest working, proactive and genuinely good human beings I have ever worked with, it did not matter. Not one bit.

Until it got out. When it did, it got out in a big way. In such a big way that office leadership was forced to take action. He had broken the law. Nobody asked, but he inadvertently told. One of the most difficult things I have had to do as an NCO was to testify against my Airman because of his sexual preference. But, that was the rule back then, and he had disobeyed it knowingly.

It was a fairly quick process for his discharge to come through. During that time, our office was in a state of shock and sadness that we were losing such an amazing Airman. He didn't want a farewell lunch or dinner or anything...he just wanted to quietly leave because I think, for him, he felt he let us down.

I have kept in contact with him in the years since he left the Air Force. He married his boyfriend and they live together happily in New York City. I still feel that the Air Force lost one of its finest when he left us.

A few years later, another young Airman walked into my office. Again, I knew right away that he was gay. But this time, there was a major difference. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was about to be put into effect within a few weeks. Knowing this, my approach did not change one bit. I welcomed him into our office and treated him as I would any other Airman.

September 20, 2010, the day DADT was repealed, came and went with no admissions from our Airman and no questions from us. I can't remember the first time he directly told me "I'm gay," but I know it took incredible courage for him to say those words to me. It was as if saying them out loud lifted tons of weight off of his shoulders, and he could finally be himself.

He could talk about his boyfriend when the other Airmen in the office were discussing date nights. He brought him to an Airman Leadership School graduation as his date, and a few months ago they got married on an Air Force base, in a chapel, by an Air Force chaplain.

Times have certainly changed. I'm pretty confident that the generations before us never imagined the day when homosexuals could openly serve in the military. But then again, the generations before them never thought that African Americans or women should serve, either. We've come a long way.

Bravo, Air Force.


Tags: Commentary, DADT Repealed, RAF Alconbury, RAF Croughton, RAF Fairford, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall, RAF Molesworth, News
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